Congratulations are in order, as the 2019 Hyundai Kona and Kona EV drove away from January’s Detroit Auto Show with some serious hardware: The North American Utility Vehicle of the Year award. Scoring 203 out of a possible 540 points, the Kona eked out a win against the Jaguar I-Pace (181 points) and Acura RDX (156 points) to become the latest trophy-winner.
If you took our suggestion and jumped on the Kona bandwagon last year, you’d know that this victory was well deserved. If you didn’t, it’s not too early to hop aboard. Here are a few key reasons why NAIAS judges pushed the new Hyundai Kona and EV crossovers into “Best SUVs in America” territory.
More Affordable Than Most Rivals
Base 2019 Hyundai Kona SE models come with a mouth-watering sticker price of just $19,990, which is lower than competitors like the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. Move up the trim levels and into the range-topping Kona Ultimate, and you’re looking at a $2,000-plus price difference compared to the comparable HR-V trim. (Additional savings on the Kona are also available in the form of Hyundai special offers at our Birmingham Hyundai dealership.)
Standard Tech & Safety Features
The new Hyundai Kona earned its NAIAS award thanks in part to a bevy of standard features and safety systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the base Kona SE, as are forward-collision warnings, lane-keeping assists, heated side mirrors, a dual-level cargo area, 2 USB ports, and a 6-way adjustable driver seat—all of which are not available or optional in the HR-V. Shoppers can also equip select Kona trims with class-exclusive wireless phone charging, a heads-up display, power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and Blue Link.
Two Peppy Engines
Unlike the HR-V and its sole 141-hp 2.0L inline-4 engine, the Hyundai Kona is available with two powerplants: a base 147-horsepower inline-4 and a potent turbo-4 that makes 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The latter engine is quite the exceptional specimen, boosting the Kona’s zero-to-sixty time to 6.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver. Its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is a swift shifter, as well, so throttling is rarely a problem.
Let’s Talk About The Kona EV…
Of all the factors that contributed to the Kona’s SUV of the Year victory, its electric model is numero uno on the list.
First and foremost, the Kona EV is an electric sub-compact crossover, not a wannabe EV SUV like the Chevy Bolt hatchback. The last time America saw a truly affordable small electric SUV was 2014 (the short-lived RAV4 EV).
Its 64-kWh battery is lightweight and protected by a reinforced, aluminum frame. The revamped and matured battery—it gains a few pounds and inches around its waist—doesn’t intrude on cargo space or interfere with the Kona’s splendid multi-link suspension system.
With a 258-mile all-electric range, the 2019 Kona EV is a solid option for anyone who commutes daily in and out of Birmingham. Powering up the Kona EV is a breeze, as well, as it supports a faster 75 kW charging rate compared to the Bolt’s max 50-kW capabilities. This equates to a one-hour charge (to 80%). And once America gets with the program by installing more electric charging stations, the Kona should be in line to control the segment.
Inside, the Kona EV looks slightly different from its Kona sibling. A new center console includes electronic shift buttons, a floating console, a wide storage area, and an ultra-sleek 8-inch touchscreen that juts up and out of the dash. And unlike the Tesla 3, the Kona EV supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and has a wireless Qi device charger.
Available for sale this summer at our Hyundai dealership near Hoover, the 2019 Kona EV is the next generation of electric crossover. This we’re certain of. Come take a test drive in the Utility Vehicle of the Year by visiting Jim Burke Hyundai at 1424 5th Ave N in Birmingham, AL. We currently have the new Kona nonelectric in stock, and the electric Kona should be here any minute now.
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